I’m getting a headache trying to keep track of FilmOn‘s Alki David feud with Aereo, and especially the lawsuits over who has the right to use different corporate names. David’s already defending himself in a suit filed by IAC chief Barry Diller, a major Aereo backer, over a web site David created called BarryDriller.com (it now seems to be defunct); major TV networks also sued David’s streaming service called Aereokiller. Here’s the latest: Yesterday he filed suit at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleging that Aereo misappropriated its company name. The story begins in early 2011 when electronics manufacturer Hauppauge Computer Works introduced a product called “WinTV-Aero-m” — it’s a tuner that plugs into computer USB ports so users can watch over-the-air digital TV. FilmOn began to market it about a year ago. And what do you know? This week Hauppauge assigned the trademark for “Aero” to FilmOn. In the new lawsuit, FilmOn charges that Aereo is “seeking to unfairly capitalize on the success of WinTV-Aero-m” hoping to “cause consumer confusion.” Aereo allegedly is attempting to “free-ride off the valuable goodwill developed and associated with the name ‘Aero.’” FilmOn wants the court to stop Aereo from using its name, and to pay unspecified damages. Aereo says that David’s suit ”is not only baseless but frivolous and [the company] will respond to it, as appropriate.”
UPDATE, 9:24 AM: Fox put out a statement today in response to the trade libel lawsuit FilmOn filed against them Thursday:
Although we have not seen the suit we welcome the opportunity to let the court determine the legitimacy of Mr. David’s business practices.
PREVIOUSLY, 5:05 PM: FilmOn has countersued Fox Broadcasting Co. and the Fox Television Stations in their continuing legal fight over streaming network programming to mobile devices. FilmOn says it is the licenser and partner in the streaming TV technology behind Alki David’s BarryDriller.com and Aereokiller. The technology uses “mini-antennas” to transmit TV signals to mobile devices. This is similar to the process used by Barry Diller’s Aereo service. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have already sued Aereokiller separately. The countersuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here) charges that “Fox has separated from the coalition of other networks … and taken steps — legal and illegal — to put FilmOn out of business”.
Accusing Fox of trade libel, FilmOn’s suit claims that Fox’s Los Angeles counsel contacted FilmOn’s various potential business partners to “inform” them that FilmOn’s apps violate a federal court injunction against distribution of streaming apps. The potential partners include Apple, Google and Microsoft. Additionally the suit says Fox’s counsel told the potential partners that distribution of the apps would be aiding copyright infringement. FilmOn asserts “Fox knew that these statements were false” …
A federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court injunction that barred early streaming service IVI from rebroadcasting network and TV station signals over the Internet. IVI, which launched in 2010, had argued that it was the same as a cable system and should be allowed to retransmit the signals of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the CW and other networks and TV station groups under compulsory licensing provisions of copyright law. The U.S. District Court found that IVI was not the same as a cable system and issued an injunction against IVI’s Internet retransmission of copyrighted programming. The 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s February 2011 injunction against IVI and CEO Todd Weaver. You can read that ruling here. It’s not clear whether the 2nd Circuit’s ruling today will have any bearing on Barry Diller’s startup streaming service Aereo and a rival, Alki David’s BarryDriller.com, which adopted a name that mimics Diller’s. Both of those have multiple lawsuits pending.
Barry Diller is taking BarryDriller to court. In a 12-page complaint filed against Alki David and BarryDriller.com Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court (read it here) the media mogul alleges David is using his name to profit with BarryDriller.com. ”Defendants are using Plaintiff’s name in their ‘BarryDriller.com’ business to (1) associate their service with Plaintiff, and (2) mislead the public into believing that Defendants’ service has been judicially sanctioned”, the complaint reads. Diller also alleges that David’s BarryDriller.com is designed to divert customers from Diller’s Aereo service that streams local broadcast signals to subscribers in New York. Both companies say that they are simply feeding consumers programming that they can already receive for free. (Broadcasters also are suing Aereo for copyright infringement.) This isn’t David’s only court battle. Fox was the first to sue David over BarryDriller.com, then CBS, NBC and ABC followed with a joint copyright infringement claim. Diller is seeking injunctive relief and punitive damages. He is represented by Robert Platt at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Related: NBC, ABC, And CBS File Their Own Suit Against “BarryDriller.com” Streaming Site
Fox Charges “BarryDriller.com” Streaming Service With Copyright Infringement
The Alki David Story Grows Weirder: What’s Up With “BarryDriller.com”?